The Rainbow Approach – Parshas Noach

The rainbow is the epitome of peace and pleasantness. Hashem gave Noach a promise that He would never again destroy the world. The rainbow is the sign that even if the world is deserving of destruction, Hashem will not do so. The Chayei Adam writes that if you see a rainbow in the sky you should not tell other people because it is a very bad sign that really Hashem wants to destroy the world at this moment. One should not be the bearer of bad news. The Yerushalmi (Berachos 65a) tells us that throughout the generation of Rashbi a rainbow was never seen in the sky. The rainbow is mighty perplexing. Why is it that such a pleasant, colorful, and magical phenomenon represents the ultimate rebuke from Hashem?

Another question that always caught my attention is that Rashi tells us that when the flood happened it began with amazing rains of blessing that could have made all the crops grow and thrive. When the people did not repent, the rains became torrential and began to cause great damage and burning upon the earth. After they were warned for 120 years and did not repent, why did Hashem still give them this last chance?

One answer explains it all. The Shlah (Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz, 1565 – March 24, 1630) provides a most beautiful interpretation of the verse (Mishlei 9:8) “Do not rebuke the scoffer for he will hate you; rebuke the wise man and he will love you.” He says that this is referring to one person. If you see that Reuven did something wrong, if you rebuke him by calling him a scoffer, sinner and bad person, he will not listen to you. Rather, the best way to help him is to talk to his higher self, tell him, “I know that you are a wise and good person, and I saw something that may have been out of character for you…” This way your words will be heard. When we talk to others, the best way to get our message across (even for rebuke) is in a most pleasant and patient manner. Speaking calmly and respectfully will go a long way.

This is the secret behind the rainbow. It is Hashem’s rebuke to the world; it is a message that really the world deserves to be destroyed because of the terrible sins being committed, but it is expressed in a most sweet and beautiful way, through a rainbow. This is a great lesson for us. This is the exact reason that Hashem sent the last warning for the Mabul by means of the most luscious rain, He wished to tell them softly that this was their last chance. When however after 120 years and all of the warnings they still did not heed, Hashem had to finally resort to their terrible punishment.

Rabbi Shimshon Pinkus zt”l explains the significance of the first three Parshios of the Torah. Bereishis establishes the creation of the world. Noach expresses the foundation of man. Lech Lecha establishes the foundation of the Jewish people beginning with Avraham Avienu. Let us bear in mind the powerful message of the rainbow which teaches us that the optimal way to communicate with people is through sweet and pleasant ways.